Tomato producers in Italy, France, Portugal, and Spain have complained to Community authorities that Morocco is breaching the Association Agreement the EU signed with that country. The agreement contemplates an entry ceiling of 285,000 tons of tomatoes to the EU at a price of € 0.46/kg. However, in 2020 Morocco exported 518,190 tons of tomato to the entire EU, including the United Kingdom. Between October and March of this year, the country has sent 373,000 tons of tomatoes to the EU.
As a result, EU tomato producers demand the agreement be reviewed and that its execution be monitored to avoid endangering the continuity of tomato cultivation in the south of the EU. The sector also said this could start happening to other productions, such as green beans.
Fepex regretted the Commission's lack of response, especially because its reports acknowledge that the EU could lose most of its trade in the medium term due to imports from third countries.
The southern countries of the EU also raised the need to adjust the entry price to the value of the productions, as it hasn't been updated for half a century. Producers estimate that their production costs are higher due to different issues, such as labor and compliance with phytosanitary security requirements, which are much tougher than the ones required in third countries. The sector demands the application of the safeguard clause and compliance with the provisions of the agreement.
The negative effects of the abusive application of the agreement have resulted in a reduction in prices below costs and, in the case of Spain, an adjustment in exports. Spain has gone from exporting one million tons, especially to the rest of the EU, to just under 700,000 tons.
This fall has been influenced by the increase in imports from Morocco, but also by the increase in production in other northern countries of the EU thanks to the development of modern greenhouse structures based on indirect aid from their governments. These greenhouse productions have higher yields per square meter than the 15 kilos on average obtained in Spain.